Top 10 Canadian Films of All Time

The Top 10 Canadian Films of All Time is a list compiled by the Toronto International Film Festival ranking what are the considered the best Canadian films. The list has been compiled once roughly every 10 years starting in 1984, typically assembled by polling a combination of Canadian critics and filmmakers. The list, which is separate from the festival's annual Canada's Top Ten list of the best Canadian films released within that year, has been published in 1993, 2004, and 2015.


The list is compiled once every decade.[1] The list was started in 1984 because Canadian film was taking off, and was made by polling critics, professors, fans and festival staff.[2] According to Piers Handling, a TIFF director, the idea of the Top 10 was to introduce the public to Canadian film, and around 100 people were polled. TIFF did not provide the poll-takers with a list of films to choose from.[3]

In 2015, the polling method was changed, as those who responded were divided into two groups, filmmakers and critics. Filmmakers made up 40% of the respondents.[4] There were 200 participants.[5]

The lists

The lists have been compiled as follows:

2015 list

The 2015 list reads:[6]

1Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner2001Zacharias Kunuk
2Mon oncle Antoine1971Claude Jutra
3The Sweet Hereafter1997Atom Egoyan
4Jesus of Montreal (Jésus de Montréal)1989Denys Arcand
5Léolo1992Jean-Claude Lauzon
6Goin' Down the Road1970Don Shebib
7Dead Ringers1988David Cronenberg
8C.R.A.Z.Y.2005Jean-Marc Vallée
9My Winnipeg2007Guy Maddin
10 (tie)Stories We Tell2012Sarah Polley
10 (tie)Les Ordres1974Michel Brault

2004 list

The 2004 list reads:[4]

1Mon oncle Antoine1971Claude Jutra
2Jesus of Montreal1989Denys Arcand
3 (tie)Goin' Down the Road1970Don Shebib
3 (tie)The Sweet Hereafter1997Atom Egoyan
5Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner2001Zacharias Kunuk
6Dead Ringers1988David Cronenberg
7Good Riddance (Les Bons débarras)1980Francis Mankiewicz
8Les Ordres1974Michel Brault
9 (tie)The Decline of the American Empire1986Denys Arcand
9 (tie)The Barbarian Invasions2003Denys Arcand

1993 list

The 1993 list reads:[7]

1Mon oncle Antoine1971Claude Jutra
2Jesus of Montreal1989Denys Arcand
3Goin' Down the Road1970Don Shebib
4The Decline of the American Empire1986Denys Arcand
5Good Riddance (Les Bons débarras)1980Francis Mankiewicz
6Les Ordres1974Michel Brault
7The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz1974Ted Kotcheff
8The Grey Fox1983Phillip Borsos
9I've Heard the Mermaids Singing1987Patricia Rozema
10The Adjuster1991Atom Egoyan

1984 list

The 1984 list reads:[7]

1Mon oncle Antoine1971Claude Jutra
2Goin' Down the Road1970Don Shebib
3Good Riddance (Les Bons débarras)1980Francis Mankiewicz
4The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz1974Ted Kotcheff
5 (tie)The Grey Fox1983Phillip Borsos
5 (tie)Les Ordres1974Michel Brault
7 (tie)J.A. Martin Photographer1977Jean Beaudin
7 (tie)Pour la suite du monde1963Pierre Perrault
9 (tie)Nobody Waved Goodbye1964Don Owen
9 (tie)The True Nature of Bernadette1972Gilles Carle


TIFF organizers were surprised with the results of the 1984 poll, which provided recognition for what they felt were underappreciated directors such as Claude Jutra, Don Shebib and Gilles Carle.[8] Wayne Clarkson, testifying before the Parliament of Canada, remarked on the 1984 list's oldest film being Nobody Waved Goodbye (1964), asking "How is it that some of this country's most acclaimed films came in the brief 20-year period between 1964 and 1984? That's a very interesting phenomenon for us."[9]

According to encyclopedist Gene Walz, the revisions in 1993 "forced people to rethink their stereotyped notions about Canadian film."[2] The 1993 list was noted for the addition of the first female director, Patricia Rozema, and Mon oncle Antoine being ranked first for a second time, despite the popularity of Jesus of Montreal and The Decline of the American Empire.[7]

Among the films that dropped off the list after 1993 were Nobody Waved Goodbye and The Grey Fox. Critic Norman Wilner said this was unsurprising, describing the two films as "very much products of their time, and they haven’t aged well."[5]

The 2015 poll saw major changes, including in the number one spot, prompting essayist Steve Gravestock to comment, "This is likely the first time that a film by an indigenous filmmaker has topped a poll of national cinema."[4] The Nunatsiaq News heralded the choice as a sign Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner "has stood the test of time."[10] However, Eric Moreault, writing for La Presse, dismissed Atanarjuat's first-place finish as nonsensical, noting Mon oncle Antoine topped all previous versions.[11]

John Semley of The Globe and Mail commented that the 2015 list "seems a little heavy on recent movies," but was remarkable for its diversity.[12] The inclusion of more recent films led to the question of whether Canadian cinema was becoming more creative, or if critics were biased to more popular films.[5] Moreault objected to what he saw as too few Quebeckers participating in the vote, saying Incendies (2010) or Mommy (2014) could be included.[11]

Peter Knegt of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation called the 2015 list "worthy" compared the alternative list produced by data journalism website The 10 and 3, weighing votes from the Internet Movie Database. That list named Room (2015) as the best Canadian film, followed by Incendies and A Christmas Story (1983).[13]

See also


  1. "Top 10 Canadian Films of All Time". The Canadian Encyclopedia. 2012. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
  2. Walz, Gene (1999). "Feature Film". The Canadian Encyclopedia (2000 ed.). Toronto: McClelland & Stewart Inc. p. 823.
  3. Handling, Piers (Fall 1994). "Canada's ten best". Take One. p. 22.
  4. Gravestock, Steve (26 June 2015). "Essay". Toronto International Film Festival. Archived from the original on 4 July 2016. Retrieved 28 August 2016.
  5. Wilner, Norman (26 June 2015). "The numbers game". Now Toronto. Retrieved 28 August 2016.
  6. "Atanarjuat voted No. 1 Canadian film of all time". CBC News. 24 April 2015. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  7. Handling, p. 23.
  8. Handling, pp. 22-23.
  9. "38th PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage". Parliament of Canada. 10 March 2005. Retrieved 28 August 2016.
  10. "Atanarjuat best Canadian film ever, TIFF poll finds". The Nunatsiaq News. 27 April 2015. Retrieved 28 August 2016.
  11. Moreault, Eric (27 April 2015). "Les dix meilleurs films: un palmarès très "canadian"". La Presse. Retrieved 28 August 2016.
  12. Semley, John (28 May 2015). "TIFF poll shows Canada's All-Time Top Ten films". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 28 August 2016.
  13. Knegt, Peter (11 March 2016). "Are these the best Canadian films of all time?". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 28 August 2016.
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